Joyful Preacher

Last Labor day I flew down to Arkansas to load a U-haul truck with furniture and files from my father-in-law’s home.  James McCrary died a few years ago and it had taken time to sift through all his things.  Several of the files I brought back contained his sermons from nearly forty years of preaching.  My wife has now been reading through her father’s sermons, discovering some real gems worth keeping and sharing them with me.  

The Rev. James P.  McCrary remains one of my heroes. 

He was a great father-in-law as well as a dedicated Presbyterian minister who loved to tell old, corny jokes.  He had the gentlest of spirits and loved to converse with anyone.  Though he never ran a race, he appreciated my desire to run marathons and encouraged me whenever he had the chance.  I remember one Thanksgiving when he was visiting us and he insisted on helping me rake the leaves in my backyard.   He said that he wanted to work up a good appetite for the meal and what better way than to rake. 

Also he gave me the greatest advice that any father-in-law could give prior to the wedding.  He told my wife and me, “you can walk down the aisle on your wedding day, fall flat on your face and still pick yourself up and have a great marriage.”   Fortunately, I didn’t fall on my wedding day and neither did my wife, since Jim walked her down the aisle, then turned around and preformed the wedding.  

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 73, and though he lived for ten years with the disease, he continued to have a gentle, loving spirit.  I can’t help but think that Jesus greeted him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Do you have heroes who have shaped you?

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